(from New York) “A government and a society that see fleeing children and families as a threat; a government that treats children in custody worse than animals; a government and a society that turn their backs on pregnant women, children and families, are a sick government and a sick society”. Mgr. Mark J. Seitz, bishop of El Paso, Texas, defines himself as a doctor of the souls and does not hesitate to make a specific diagnosis for his country: “The USA suffer from a hardened heart”. It is an America that has forgotten the golden rule, the lessons of writing, the commandment of love, the one that the photos and videos of these last few days have portrayed, and, above all, “it is an America that has forgotten God”, according to mgr. Seitz, who last Thursday walked across the Ledo bridge that connects the USA to the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez to escort a group of migrants who had been sent back from the border and had piled together in this outpost of hope; after the “Remain in Mexico” program deployed huge security forces at the borders that don’t do much else but stopping or sending back hundreds of migrants and families, after an anguished detection without any basic service. “God knocks here, at the border – the El Paso prelate went on –. He knocks on the fight for hope, freedom and family. He knocks on the life of Jakelin and Felipe and Oscar and Valeria (the migrants who were found dead on the banks of Rio Grande), and He knocks on our neighbours”. The bishop asks his fellow countrymen to look at such “neighbours not as at aliens or illegals”, but as at parents who want to save their children from violence and malnutrition: “Are they not entitled to this? Are they not entitled to a job and to support their families? Or would we rather they died on the banks of Rio Grande because their presence upsets us?”.
Mgr. Seitz, who defined the decision to cross the bridge as “an act of faith” insists in saying that a heard heart comes from not putting oneself in the shoes of the people who suffer, from refusing to grieve for the ill-treatment inflicted by the people who represent our country, from “not feeling the hunger and the cold of those who leave”. The adopted border policies and the long waits in inhuman conditions are driving more and more people to try to cross in dangerous areas, as it happened to Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, whose photo has become the symbol of this tragedy. “Wa have already seen nine people die last week in the attempt to cross the border, and it’s terrible. We must try to do something for this inadequate system that is killing people who flee to save their lives”, the bishop concluded.